The Impressions of Stalin Essay

I would say that sources B and C are very similar while source A portrays a totally different image. Source A is a cartoon showing three pyramids of skulls with Stalin pointing at them and telling people to come and “Visit the pyramids of the USSR”, which show us the results of Stalin’s policies of killing the Kulaks because they disagreed with him. Stalin looks happy and proud of these pyramids that he has created and is please that he has achieved his goal. He looks far from remorseful, which is what would be expected of any normal man and instead inviting people to come and see the skulls.

The source uses sarcasm to show people how evil Stalin is and illustrates the awfulness of what his policies have done. There are also vultures present on the skulls, which simply help to emphasise on how evil Stalin is. The cartoon was published in Paris in the 1930’s. This was at the same time when capitalist countries, including France, were trying to overtake communism and so by publishing this cartoon the French capitalists were showing everyone how bad communism is. Therefore, it is obvious that the source is biased and should be treated with caution.

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However, from my background knowledge I know that Stalin did eliminate millions of Kulaks (peasant farmers) and so the image that the cartoon portrays is accurate. Source B shows an entirely different side to Stalin. This source shows Stalin standing in front of a hydroelectric station laughing with four peasants, despite the fact that Stalin is wearing white, crisp clean clothes and gives off a very neat image while the peasants are wearing ragged clothes and are obviously of far less status than Stalin, which indicates comradeship between Stalin and the workers.

The peasants are all happy, which shows that they are pleased with Stalin and are happy to be rewarded. This source was on ‘official’ Soviet painting and so is obviously is very biased. From my background knowledge, I know that Stalin used media to achieve his purposes, and he actually paid artists, painters, novelists, etc. to draw and write about him in a positive manner. Therefore, the source is not at all reliable and from my background knowledge I know that the image it portrays is also wrong.

The hydroelectric station portrays a true image of the industralistion that was going on due to the five yea plans. However, the majority of workers were not happy as they had poor wages, long hours, and hardly any type of social life. Therefore, the image of the workers being rewarded for their work totally contradicts the reality of what was happening. Source C is very similar to source B. it shows a photograph of Stalin congratulating wives of army officers. The women obviously look up to Stalin, thinking he is wonderful and are all trying to touch him.

However, it must be noted that the women are all wives of the people who helped Stalin get through collectivization and who helped achiever Stalin’s goals, and so Stalin is clearly going to be nice to them. The fact that the source is a photograph makes the source more reliable, however, it is still not 100% accurate as Stalin has been know to alter photographs before. (As was the case of removing Trotsky and Kamenev from the photograph showing Lenin giving a speech).

Although none of the sources are totally accurate and reliable, I know from my background knowledge that it is source A which portrays Stalin as a brutal murderer, which is closer to the truth than sources B and C, which falsely portray Stalin as a kind-hearted, respectable and popular man. 2. Study Source D. Does it provide any useful evidence about Stalin? Explain your answer. (6) Source D is written by Stalin and before even reading the source, we know there is bound to be a biased view portrayed in it. The source recalls an incident of when Stalin was in exile in Siberia.

Apparently Stalin had seen around thirty men walking to the river so as to pull out the timber. However, when they had returned, one of the comrades was missing. When Stalin asked about his whereabouts, he got an unconcerned reply and was informed that the man had “remained at the river”. This shocks Stalin and when he demands to know more, again he gets a reply with the same unconcerned tone and unfeeling emotion of “he drowned, of course”. By now Stalin is in a state of shock. How can these people be so unconcerned about losing a human life?

He seems to think that these people do not even appreciate or value the gift of life. His views are backed up farther when he tells them off for “having more concern for animals than for men” and gets a barbaric response of “why should we be concerned about men? We can always make another man”. This seems to be the final straw and Stalin realises that these people have a lack of concern for the welfare of the human life. In this source we get a picture of Stalin as being a very caring and considerate man who values humans as being individuals and appreciates them as they are.

We also get the picture that the attitude that these people he met had, would never be the attitude he would ever use because he seems too concerned about the missing man that he had not even met! So we see that Stalin would never treat a human life like that and would value it. This incident that Stalin talks about is to just back up his main point of how the leaders at that time show the same kind of unconcerned attitude towards the people as these people that he met in Siberia. Again, we get a picture that Stalin is trying to say that he will never be like these leaders because he cares about people and appreciates them.

However, though this source portrays a good image of Stalin as a caring and thoughtful man, we still cannot say that it provides us any real evidence because not only was it written by Stalin himself, but also when he was in exile. He needed people’s sympathy and he obviously wanted to make himself out to be as a sweet and kind man. He used the media to his advantage to manipulate people into thinking he was a great man. 3. Study sources E & F. Which of these two sources is the more reliable? Explain your answer. (8)

Both the sources give two very different opinions of Stalin. In source E, before even reading the source, we can instantly tell that it is going to be biased and will be in favour of Stalin because it was published in a Communist newspaper (Pravda). Since we know Stalin has always been a man who used the media to manipulate people into thinking he was a great man, we can easily tell that this source would not most probably be reliable. Our doubts are proven right after we read the source because the author of the source does nothing but praise the “wise and marvelous” Stalin.

The man continuously praises Stalin and even mentions that the “first word” his child will “utter will be: Stalin”. This shocks us for because the first word a child utters is always his parent’s names. So we get a sense that either Stalin has completely brain washed this man and people like him, or maybe this man does sincerely love Stalin. However, I personally doubt that it’s the second option because this man even says that he “shall never forget how we met Stalin two days ago”. TWO days?!

No one is capable of knowing how “great” a person is unless they’ve known them for months or even years! Therefore, again, this proves that this source isn’t so reliable because this man is basing his views on Stalin in the space of two days in which he has met him in! Furthermore, because of collectivization, many people who did not accept the laws that were set about were treated harshly; put in exile, threatened, families taken away, etc. Therefore, in order to avoid this happening to them, people were bribed into supporting Stalin.

For people who did not support him, they were punished, for those who did, they were promoted and appointed in higher positions. Therefore, the author of this source may have also been bribed and so is making Stalin seem as a great man. However, the nationalist sense of pride with Stalin’s policy of ‘socialism in one country’ gave the people assurance to know that their leader had confidence in them, and therefore, maybe in the case of the author of this source, they may feel sincerely thankful and grateful for Stalin for his support and trust.

However, all in all, I do not trust this source and I do not see it as being reliable because it portrays Stalin to be a God and not merely just a man. Looking at source F, again, before reading the source, we quickly realise that although the source may be anti-Stalin because it is written by Bukharin who was an ex-Stalin supporter, we still get an idea that this source may be more reliable than the one before it because at least Bukharin KNEW Stalin for a while. After Lenin died, there was conflict as to who should be his successor.

It was between Stalin and Trotsky. Bukharin supported Stalin against Trotsky as Lenin’s successor. However, after Stalin came into power he realized he no longer needed Zinoviev and Kamenev, although they had helped Stalin to survive, and so decided to get rid of them. Afterwards, he started receiving a lot of criticism from Bukharin and others about the forceful and brutal methods that his policy of industrialisation was using against the peasants and having had enough of it all, Stalin made Bukharin one of his many victim’s of his purges in 1938.

Reading the source, we realise that Bukharin is in fact telling the truth when he mentions that “Stalin is unhappy at not being able to convince everyone, himself included, that he is greater than everyone else” because when the fact that Stalin got rid off all of Lenin’s supporters when he came into power was because Stalin feared that they would overthrow him. Furthermore, when Lenin died and actually said in his will that he thought Trotsky made a better leader than Stalin, it made Stalin even more angry because that fear that someone might actually be greater than him would lways remain there. Hence, the fact that Stalin got rid of Trotsky was because, as Bukharin says, Trotsky was “a constant reminder that he, Stalin, is not the first and best”. The fact that this source is by a man who once knew Stalin very well, we can assume it to be more reliable than source E. Bukharin knows exactly how it feels to be both in Stalin’s good books and his bad ones. When Bukharin says that Stalin is a “malicious man”, we tend to trust him on that point because Stalin had made him suffer a lot for him not supporting his views.

However, again, this source may be a bit more biased than it should be because OBVIOUSLY Bukharin is going to call Stalin a “devil” after everything he was made to put through; from suffering to total isolation by the press and the people. Finally, when comparing the two sources, I personally think that source F is more reliable because at least Bukahrin KNEW Stalin, unlike the author in source E who had only “met him two days ago”. 4. Study Sources G and H. Do you trust Khrushchev’s assessments of Stalin?

Use your knowledge of Stalin to explain your answer. (6) Both sources G and H portray different images of Stalin, although they were both by the same person. In source G, Khrushchev is praising Stalin and telling people that his “use of terror and executions was necessary for the defence of socialism and communism”, whereas in source H Khrushchev contradicts himself and tells the audience that “Stalin was a very distrustful” and “very suspicious” man. The contradictions of the two sources can be explained by the different audiences and different times.

In source G, Khrushchev is talking to the Soviet Communist party who were all supporters of Stalin, as by 1939 Stalin was ‘secure’ and had only very loyal people in important positions and so, in 1956, the members of the party were still those very loyal to Stalin. Therefore, Khrushchev is describing Stalin in a positive way only and tries to justify Stalin’s actions so as to gain the support of these people, so that he may secure his position as Stalin’s successor. (As the president’s successor was chosen by the party and not by public election).

However, in source H he is to the public audience, at a later date, after he has secured his position and does not need to worry about the support of the party leaders. At this point in time, the country went through a process of ‘de-Stalinisation’ and in this speech, Khrushchev is trying to convince the people that he also disliked Stalin and also agrees with their point of view. Khrushchev was a man very close to Stalin, and so he was very aware of Stalin’s actions and in my opinion, his judgement on Stalin should be trusted.

From my background knowledge I know that Khrushchev’s description of Stalin in source H is the most correct one out of the two as Stalin was a very suspicious man and never hesitated to obliterate any hurdles in his way, such as anyone he didn’t trust or anyone he thought knew too much about him. This is exactly what happened when Stalin shot Zinoviev and Kamenev in 1936 despite them being the ones who helped Stalin become president in the first place.

Khrushchev’s judgement that Stalin was also a very suspicious man is also truthful, as Stalin was not ‘secure’ and distrusted all those around him until 1939 when he had raised a generation of people loyal to him to be in his party. However, it must be noted that the sources must be treated with some degree of caution as Khrushchev was continuously changing his opinions, as shown by the contradiction of the two sources, and it was this fickleness of this that allowed the Russians later or to take advantage and rebel against him. 5. Study Sources I and J. How far do these Sources agree about Stalin’s ‘show trial’s?

Explain your answer. (7) These two sources try to create the impression that Stalin’s court cases were “show trials” – trials that guaranteed the accused by Stalin to be found guilty. The two sources were created by two allied countries – France and the USA, so they would be obviously biased against Stalin. This is particularly obvious in the amount of exaggeration presented in both the sources. Source I shows all of the accused immediately admitting to their guilt, without any kind of hesitation. In reality, the “show trials” were much less exaggerated, but more than ever resulted in the accused admitting to his/her guilt.

Stalin used many different methods of interrogation and torture to force the accused to admit to their guilt. Source I also shows two guards waiting in the background, and in the distant background another armed guard waiting beside a hanging noose – as if ready to receive a next victim. This is trying to make out the point that Stalin forced the accused to admit to their guilt, and once found guilty, the accused is executed straight away. Source J agrees with Source I, by showing Stalin being the judge, prosecutor/defence and jury.

In other words, Stalin is made out to be in control of every aspect of the trial. In reality, this was the case, where Stalin always got the outcome he wanted from the “show trials”. Source I shows Stalin having the upper hand in the trials, with the power to control everything. This creates the impression that the outcomes of the trials were forced, and the guilty was forced to admit to his/her guilt. This is more realistic, as with the “show trials”, the guilty did not immediately jump to proclaim their guilt as exaggerated in source I, but more like made out in source J, they were forced to.

Both the sources agree on a ‘no getting out’ situation, where source I shows armed guards ready to deal with the accused, if they get out of hand or are found guilty. Source J shows this in the sense that Stalin had control over every aspect of the court, so no matter what they did, they could not win. The also difference is that source J represents the “show trials” as taking place in a proper courtroom, with the judge, jury, and defence/prosecution all being present. Source I, however, shows the “show trials” as being military trials – a kind of ‘find the accused guilty and dispose of’ situation.

It is shown out to be a personal duel, between Stalin, and the accused, at one side of the table sit the accused, and the other Stalin, along with his personal scribe. This latter idea is also a representation found in source J, where with Stalin having the position of every position in the courtroom, the trial is made out to be a personal duel between Stalin and the accused also. Both sources show Stalin being relaxed, in complete control of the situation. 6. Study Sources K, L and M. Compare what these three Sources say about Stalin. (6)

Source K was published in Russia and describes Stalin as a ‘brilliant leader and teacher’ with ‘faith in the people, and love for the people’. We get a very positive image of Stalin in this Source, which is not reality, as we know for a fact the atrocities committed by him. However, this Source was published in Russia in 1947, which means it must have been during his lifetime. We also know from our background knowledge that Stalin had complete control over his people and the media so we cannot trust this Source at all as it is extremely biased.

Stalin was very good at manipulating his people into thinking him as some kind of ‘hero’ who saved Russia and made their lives perfect, and he achieved this by having control over everything that happened in his country, and everything written about him had to be flattering, praising and gracious, otherwise the penalties that had to be made to any one who went against that were great. Source L, was published in Britain, and so would be expected to be free from being biased in Stalin’s favour, perhaps even containing hints of being biased against Stalin.

The source starts off by praising Stalin, describing him as a “gifted politician, and one of the greatest political figures of the twentieth century”. He then turns his description into a more balanced argument, describing Stalin as having a “dark and evil side to his nature”. Thus, creating an impression of a skilled ruler and politician, but hints that his aims were not always for the good. As this is a British-published source, we cannot decide on what “good” and the “evil side” of his nature were.

Source M was published in Britain also, yet earlier than Source L, in a time where British critics would be more biased against Stalin. Strangely, this is not so much the case, where this source explains that Stalin’s actions were necessary in bringing the power to Russia that he brought. It explains that “the terror was necessary”, to keep his people “obedient” and to make his opponents “believe in him”. The last point, that without terror, Stalin’s rule would have gone completely unnoticed is a very legitimate argument.

From my own knowledge, of Stalin’s riddance of his opponents, such as Trotsky and Zinnoviev, if he had not got rid of them, they would have threatened the “clear absurdity” of his rule, as potential candidates to steal the power from him. This also backs his description of Stalin, that “Absolute power turned a ruthless politician into a monstrous giant”. Both Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, etc. were close friends and comrades of Stalin, all three senior directors of the communist revolution of Russia. Stalin’s seizure of power, however, did not stop him from getting rid of his friends.

Also in the case of Stalin’s mass purges, such as of the kulaks during the years of collectivisation, this was necessary for Stalin to maintain his iron hold on power. Thus, from my knowledge, source M does not seem to be biased at all. Having looked at all three Sources and seen the reliability of all three, I think that Source M and K are two extremes of Stalin’s personality and seem to totally disagree with each other as they have many differences in opinion. Source K portrays Stalin as some kind of hero/ God while Source M describes him as an inhuman tyrant.

These differences are expected as they were written and different times and in different places and I think that Source L is more reliable and balances the two different viewpoints of Stalin. Following on from this, we can see that all three sources revolve around the same two aspects of Stalin – his iron will and skill at ruling the country, and his attitude to the people. Sources L and M describe Stalin as a very able man, however, who reigned with his ‘iron fist’, by putting down all opposition – even if it meant massacring thousands. 7.

Using the sources in this paper and your knowledge of Stalin explain whether or not you think he was a monster. (10) From my knowledge of Stalin I can say he was a mighty and powerful ruler. He ruled his country with iron will and did not give chance to any form of opposition, albeit from his own people or opposition from other nations. He transformed Russia from a rural, undeveloped country, into the world’s strongest superpower in a time span of two decades. Under his rule, the USSR emerged as the strongest military power in the world, and the largest country in the world.

However, in order to achieve this, and in order for his ambitions of the USSR to be achieved, he wiped out anyone who opposed him and his ideas. This included millions of his own people, as well as soldiers and people from other nations. Source A reflects this. Although it was published in France, and so will most probably be biased against Stalin, from what I know about Stalin, it shows much truth. In fact the mountains of skulls in the background are no exaggeration. Stalin massacred millions of civilians who opposed his regime.

For example, during Stalin’s collectivisation of the farmlands, many civilian farmers opposed this idea, and therefore were purged by Stalin’s forces on a mass scale. Source A shows Stalin ‘showing off’ these mountains to the tourists. This makes Stalin seem proud of them, and from what I know of Stalin, this also is not such an exaggeration. Stalin was proud of what he brought the USSR, and he brought it great advances, however at a cost he was ready and willing to pay, and he was proud of his actions.

He saw the people who stood in his way as a block towards the advancement of Russia, and so in order for Russian to advance, they needed to be got rid of. Source B is an official soviet painting, so will be biased in Stalin’s favour. However, it too shows much truth. It shows Stalin posing for the camera in front of a newly built hydroelectric power station. Thus, demonstrating the advancements Stalin has brought to Russia. From my knowledge, he brought great advancements to his country, so there is much truth in this. However, the source also shows Stalin standing next to workers.

From what I know of Stalin, he committed mass murders of the workers and drove them hard to complete the tasks he aimed to complete in a very short time span. Therefore, showing Stalin laughing and standing with the workers may not have so much truth in it as the soviet artist claims. Source C shows Stalin as a man who was with the wives of the army officers. This source was published by the soviets so it would be all pro-Stalin. From my knowledge of Stalin and how he ruled, he was very cautious and weary of his close colleagues in government.

He suspected everyone as a potential spy as source H explains and so such a warm welcome to their wives would be perhaps a little over-exaggerated. Despite this, after winning a battle perhaps, Stalin would have been overjoyed by his country’s achievements, and wanting always to keep a good public image, there seems no real reason why this source is not exaggerated in this case. I agree almost totally with Source G. From my knowledge of Stalin he is exactly that. He believed terror and executions were necessary for the defence of Communism and Socialism, else his government would be overthrown.

These were done in the interests of the party, however not of the working masses. As my knowledge of Russia under Stalin’s rule tells me that he committed mass purges of the working mass, these killings were definitely not in their interests. However, as a result of these killings, Stalin became free to advance Russia even more, and so, in a way, the outcomes of Stalin’s methods, which made the USSR the world’s greatest superpower, did actually favour the interests of the Russian people as a whole. Source H, I agree with totally. Stalin saw every member of his party as a potential replacement of himself.

He was completely distrustful of every party member, fearing they may plot to overthrow him. He dealt with his opposition severely, as shown in sources I and J. He had total control of all trials held, and their outcome was totally dependant on what he wished. He would terrorise the accused by threatening to kill their families, torture them, and other methods of terror. The accused always got what Stalin wanted. If he wanted them dead, then they were found guilty and killed. So, in conclusion, the question of whether Stalin was a man or monster still remains.

Perhaps “Stalin was convinced that the use of terror and executions was necessary for the defence of Socialism and Communism” as Krushchev says in source G. perhaps he was just a tyrant who enjoyed dictating his country like a man of steel, and caused his country to go through a ‘de-Stalinisation’ process after he died. Due to Stalin’s omposed censorship during his rule there are simply too many confused stories and too many limitations on the sources given, and with my knowledge I cannot conclude whther Stalin was a man or monster.

In my opinion, Stalin, as source K says, was a brilliant leader and teacher of his country. He strived to make the soviet empire as powerful a state as possible, and ruled with iron will. However, as source L states, his skill with leadership did not justify his actions, especially that of genocide. As source M says, Stalin was corrupted by the power he gained, and turned into a ruthless tyrant, who was prepared to kill millions in order to achieve his aims.


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